Former Secretary of State Colin Powell died Monday from complications from COVID-19. He was 84. Powell spent three decades in high-profile positions in military leadership and later as a statesman.
School leaders in Grand Prairie ISD reflected on the campus that carries his name and the visit from Powell that it still remembered well.
Numbers are always at the center of a math lesson but for Tammy Oxford her emphasis Monday is on a little history too.
“He expected us to be a great school because we were named after him,” Oxford said.
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Colin Powell Elementary opened in August 1997. Three months later teachers, students, and parents crowded into the campus to see and hear Powell up close.
Sam Buchmeyer now handles public information requests for GPISD. 24 years ago he was tasked with picking Powell up at Love Field and driving him to the new elementary campus. Buchmeyer on Monday shared what many are remembering about Powell, a commanding presence combined with his ability to connect – from world leaders to school leaders.
“He was genuinely inquisitive about Grand Prairie about the school,” Buchmeyer said.
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Numerous photos of Powell adorn the school’s trophy case that includes two letters Powell addressed to the school.
“It wasn’t like he forgot about these kids,” Buchmeyer said. He was still in communication with the school for some time.”
Oxford has been teaching fourth-grade math since the school opened. She said the visit by Powell instilled a tradition of hard work and excellence for students over the last two decades.
“It was amazing, I never would have thought Colin Powell would come here,” Oxford said. “It made us want to do the best we could do.”
Powell returned to North Texas in 2016 to speak at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
According to a report from the University of Dallas, Powell urged the audience to invest in early childhood education.